Tag: south east asia (Page 1 of 5)

Don’t Forget to Visit Crazy House

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Dalat is such a great city. It’s a welcome break from the humidity of the rest South East Asia. I spent a lovely few days in the mountains of Vietnam, but the highlight was definitely Crazy House.

Crazy House

Crazy House is an amazing guesthouse in Dalat. If I wasn’t on a backpacker budget I would’ve 100% stayed there. It’s like something out of a fairytale. The architect who created the building, Đặng Việt Nga, was inspired by Gaudi, but I personally thought it felt like a Disney creation.

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The day I visited was quiet, so I almost had the place to myself. The whole house felt like a woodland and in some parts looked like odd-shaped trees.

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I loved how many staircases there were and how easy it was to get lost climbing up and down the stairs with all the twists and turns.

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From the top of Crazy House it was possible to see stunning views of Da Lat.

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The guestrooms were open for viewing (although you couldn’t actually go into the rooms). This room had a carving of a bear. crazyhouseguestroom

And this one had windows that looked like spiderwebs. The woodland feel of the place felt so unusual for South East Asia, yet fit in nicely with the cooler climate of Da Lat.

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And of course, here’s a selfie I took. It was nice to take a selfie where I’m not looking sweaty from the humidity.

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How to get to Da Lat

Fly – It’s possible to fly directly to Dalat from Ho Chi Minh or Hanoi.

Bus – Get the bus from Mui Ne, Ho Chi Minh, Nha Trang or Hoi An.

Other Activities in Da Lat

Crazy House was my highlight, but there’s plenty of other things to do in Da Lat. Most backpackers do canyoning as part of a day tour. There’s also a tour which involves driving around the local countryside on motorbikes. Like most places in South East Asia, these are available to book in every hostel on arrival. I stayed at Mr Peace Backpacker’s House which I enjoyed. The staff were really friendly and there was a family dinner each evening.

What’s the most interesting building you’ve seen whilst travelling? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

For more on Vietnam, check out my posts about Ho Chi Minh City, Mui Ne and the Mekong Delta.

 

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A Jeep Tour Of Mui Ne

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Mui Ne is a small beach town in Vietnam, around 5 hours drive north of Ho Chi Minh City. Many backpackers miss this place out when travelling through Vietnam, opting to stop in the larger resort area of Nha Trang, a few hours north. I personally preferred Mui Ne to Nha Trang – it’s quieter.

There’s a lovely beach in Mui Ne, which has pretty good surf, so there’s usually a few surfers out on the water. There are businesses offering kite surfing and regular surfing lessons along the beach. Like I said before, it’s quiet in Mui Ne so if you’re interested in learning either of these, it’s a good place to learn.

I stayed at La Casa Del Latino Hotel because it had been recommended by some backpackers I met in Ho Chi Minh. It was such a nice, chilled out hotel/hostel with a pool. The staff were so friendly and the food in the restaurant was delicious.

mui ne la casa del latino

The Tour

There’s a jeep tour which can be booked through hostels in Mui Ne. The tour includes stops to the white sand dunes, red sand dunes, fishing village and fairy stream. The tour runs at either 4.30am or 1.30pm. I chose the 4.30am tour because I’m slightly mad. Just kidding, the 4.30am tour includes seeing the sunset over the white sand dunes. Also, I wanted to go Da Lat the same day so doing the 4.30am tour meant I could get the afternoon bus to Da Lat.

The jeep picked me up at 4am, along with a couple of other people from my hostel. Whilst my day was starting very early, there were plenty of people in the bars along the Main Street.

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We headed towards the sand dunes, in the pitch black, but by the time we arrived at the white dunes, sunrise was imminent. I paid an extra 200,000 to get a quad bike to the top of the dunes, where there I saw the most amazing views of the sunrise. See for yourself:

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Once the sun was up, it was slightly surprising how quickly the temperature rose. We got back in the jeep and went to the red sand dunes. The red sand dunes felt really touristy and honestly were not as impressive as the white sand dunes.

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The next stop was the fishing village. Fishermen and fishmongers were going about their daily business, paying no mind to the tourists around them.

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Fairy Stream

The final stop was the fairy stream. It’s a nice walk up the stream to see some beautiful rock formations. There was also an adorable puppy at the beginning of the walk which made it all the more worthwhile.

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Mui Ne was such a relaxed part of Vietnam. I enjoyed the tour and I’m surprised so many people miss out Mui Ne, when it’s almost halfway between Da Lat and Ho Chi Minh City. If you have a 30 day visa for Vietnam it’s definitely worth stopping by.

 

 

 

 

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Learning about the Vietnam War in Ho Chi Minh

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The Vietnam War is a dark period in Vietnamese history. From 1955-1975, the country was under attack, first from France, in an attempt at recolonization, and then the USA, in their war against communism.

The Vietnam War was taught to me at school, so I had some background knowledge of the conflict before I visited Vietnam. (Unlike in Cambodia, where I ashamedly knew very little about the Khmer Rouge regime until I got there.)

The War Remnants Museum

The War Remnants museum is a great place to learn about the tactics and weaponry used by the USA against the Viet Cong during the war. Much of the content is distressing so be prepared for that when you go into the museum. Particularly upsetting are the sections about the War Crimes committed by the Americans and the effects of Agent Orange. IMG_8074

I thought the museum was very one sided and did very little to explain the world political situation at the time.

The Cu Chi Tunnels

In the afternoon I went on a tour to the Cu Chi tunnels. There, I learnt about the tactics used by the Viet Cong during the war against the USA, and also how villagers lived during the war.

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It’s interesting to see how resourceful the Vietnamese people were against the USA’s powerful weaponry.

The details of the traps the Viet Cong set to catch Americans are gruesome and it’s easy to see why so many US veterans of this war went home with mental health issues.

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There’s one part of the tour where you can pay extra to fire guns, such as AK-47s. The Americans left a large amount of weaponry and bullets behind when they left in 1975. The bullets fired are the same ones left behind by the Americans, and there’s still plenty more for tourists to fire in the future.

I hated how loud the guns were. If you’ve never heard a gun fire in real life, it’s actually really surprising how loud they are.

At the end of the day, we ate tapioca with peanut dip, which is what the people living in the tunnels would’ve eaten during the war. It didn’t taste too bad, but it was pretty bland.

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Learning about the Vietnam War was interesting, and I honestly think all visitors to Vietnam should take the time to learn about the history of this country. I think it’s important to learn about the history of a country when visiting, as it gives some insight into a country’s current state. Neighbouring Cambodia has also had a bloody history from the rule of the Khmer Rouge.

If you’re short of time in Ho Chi Minh City, definitely visit the Cu Chi tunnels and War Remnants museum instead of doing a day tour of the Mekong Delta.

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Koh Lanta

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Koh Lanta – an island many backpackers miss out on their travels around Thailand. It’s an island more renowned for its quiet beaches and gorgeous beaches than a wild party scene.

Koh Lanta

I arrived there in low season – August. I caught a bus from Krabi for 300 baht, which includes the short ferry ride to Koh Lanta.

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The hostel I’d booked was almost empty. A far cry from the full dorm rooms of Krabi – backpackers who were going to or had just been to Koh Phi Phi. My hostel was a 10-minute walk from Long Beach so on my first full day, I headed straight there. The beach was wonderfully quiet. Disappointingly, I found there was quite a lot of litter on the beach. Mostly plastic water bottles. Perhaps they’d been brought to the beach by the rough seas?

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Lanta Animal Rescue

In the afternoon, I visited Lanta Animal Rescue, an organisation dedicated to helping the animals on Koh Lanta. There were kittens and puppies available to pet as soon as I arrived, including 3 very cute kittens called Ice, Gin and Tonic.

lanta animal rescue

Every couple of hours, a member of staff gives a guided tour to any tourists who are interested. I went on the tour and learned a  lot about why there are (or were) so many stray dogs in Koh Lanta (and by extension, other touristy areas). This is a great organisation and I absolutely loved spending the afternoon here. There’s also the option of dog walking, either before 11am or after 3pm, when the weather is slightly cooler.

lanta animal rescue

The following day, the weather was stormy almost all day. Not wanting to spend a week on an island where there’s very little to do when the weather is bad, I decided to go to Langkawi. This took all day and involved getting a bus to Trang, then a bus to Satun, then a boat from Satun to Langkawi. It was much easier than I expected, considering I could only book the bus from Koh Lanta to Trang, and I had to book the rest of the transport on arrival at each destination.

I liked Koh Lanta, but unfortunately didn’t experience everything the island has to offer because of the bad weather. Perhaps I was unlucky. Perhaps I wasn’t expecting it to rain quite so much.

 

 

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2 Days In Krabi

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After leaving Myanmar earlier than originally planned, I decided to go the south of Thailand for some beach time.

Previously I’d visited a few Thai islands, namely Phuket, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao, all known for partying, but this time, I was searching for quieter beaches.

I arrived in Krabi at 9am, fresh off a night bus from Bangkok. My plan was to nap then head to Ao Nang to watch the sunset. Weird how plans don’t quite seem to work out in the south of Thailand.

First, I somehow managed to get roped into having breakfast cocktails with a guy who was waiting for a bus to Koh Samui. Luckily (for me anyway) he left at midday so it couldn’t turn into a day drinking session.

Next, I headed back to the hostel. Still unable to check in, I charged my phone in the lobby. I started talking to a guy who’d planned to go to the Tiger Cave Temple and managed to be talked into going there. Probably not the best idea considering how shattered I was from the night bus.

The Tiger Cave Temple

There’s a few monkeys hanging around the bottom of the steps. They may climb on you. Especially if you’re carrying a water bottle or any kind of snacks.

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Don’t be deceived by those cute faces

There’s over 1,200 steps to the top of the Tiger Cave Temple. If you’re in any doubt as to how many this is, it’s a lot. Many TripAdvisor reviewers didn’t complete the ascent. Think over 30 minutes of constant uphill.

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Just a short climb…

Undeterred, we began the climb. By 300, I was more sweat than human. It was pretty gross. I genuinely didn’t think I’d make it. At 1,000, I regretted not bringing a snack with me.

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I’ve made a huge mistake

The views from the top were incredible. Even though it was a cloudy day, we could see for miles.

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Railey Beach… or not

The next day I’d planned to visit Railey Beach. I went to get some breakfast and whilst eating, a torrential downpour started. I hoped that it would stop pretty quickly, but 2 hours later I was still sitting in the same cafe, hoping the rain would stop. Needless to say, I didn’t make it to Railey Beach. The rain continued to pour or threaten to pour for the rest of the day.

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Instead. I checked out some of the many sculptures along the main road in Krabi.

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Crabs in Krabi. Original, I know.

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The two nights I spent in Krabi, I ate at the night market, where the food is cheap (around 50 baht for a meal).

I stayed at Pak-Up Hostel which was in a good location. Other backpackers said good things about Hogwarts, and as a Harry Potter fan, I’m not sure why I didn’t choose that one.

Overall, I enjoyed my short time in Krabi. It does feel like a stop over town, and you rarely meet people staying for over 2 nights. However, there’s plenty to do and see (providing the weather isn’t terrible the whole time you’re there).

 

 

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